Born in California in 1980, Christina Ricci grew up in New Jersey and appeared in her first film, Mermaids, aged nine. She has since starred in The Addams Family, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Opposite of Sex and Monster. Ricci owns a production company, Blaspheme Films, and lives in Los Angeles with Kick Gurry, an Australian actor.

Christina Ricci, once the weird-looking child star in The Addams Family, has blossomed into a smart and together young woman. Today she is looking charmingly demure in a silk Yves Saint Laurent cocktail dress and elegant Manolo Blahnik heels, so it’s somewhat disconcerting when a sudden release of flatulence comes from her direction – so loud it reverberates about her Beverly Hills hotel suite. “Oh no! You thought that was me? That was Ramon!” she exclaims quickly, gesturing to the miniature French bulldog curled up on her lap. “When he gets tired he snores very noisily, and other stuff . . .”

Ricci was only nine years old when she made her movie debut in Mermaids, alongside Cher, as her on-screen mother, and Winona Ryder, who played her big sister. That’s almost 20 years ago now, and though there have been some tricky times – teenage struggles with anorexia and self-harm – she has at least managed to avoid the cycle of hard partying and stints in rehab that has taken hold of other young stars. It may be stretching credulity but she claims never to have been offered drugs at Hollywood parties and says she’s pretty much stopped drinking alcohol because she cannot handle it.

“I think it’s hard for young actors because when you go to the premiere party you’re told, ‘Have a great time.’ But you’re going to have your picture taken all night and then you’re going to have to talk to interviewers. So they don’t really mean, ‘Have a great time and start drinking . . .’ They mean, pretend you’re having a good time, basically. But if you’re a kid or a teenager you don’t really understand that yet. I think it takes falling down or messing up a few times until they get that.” Ricci, now 28 and with 40 films under her belt, is grateful to have grown up before the boom in celebrity magazines and the attendant paparazzi that constantly trail troubled stars such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

“When I was growing up there wasn’t the same sort of media attention that there is now,” she says. “I went through all the normal growing pains of being a teenager and then being in your early twenties and the whole drinking thing and going out to clubs. “But there weren’t paparazzi around and there wasn’t this level of attention that there is now. I think I got off pretty easy. But I do have my regulars, which I think is hilarious. It’s not quite Britney status. No, no, no. I have maybe three cars waiting outside my house while she’s got, like, maybe 50.”

It’s a wonder Ricci managed to remain more or less stable. The youngest of four children, she was born in California but grew up largely in New Jersey, where her father was a psychiatrist who practised primal screaming therapy in the family’s basement, and her mother was a model turned real estate agent. As a child, Ricci would hear her father’s patients’ shrieks through the vents in her room, and would later reenact them for her mother. Spotted in a school play aged eight, she went on to star in two Addams Family films and in Casper, before graduating to precocious teenager roles in Buffalo ’66 and The Opposite of Sex. In the middle of it all, her parents divorced and Ricci stopped seeing her father. She grew up quickly and was behind the wheel of her first car by the time she was 14. “It was a 1967 Ford Falcon Futura station wagon. It was a boat, and weighed more than 3,000lb, and I really couldn’t control it,” she says. “I drove it for three months before my uncle got in it to move it, and he was, like, ‘You’re not driving this thing any more’. “It had no power brakes and I’d literally have to stand on the brakes for about half a mile before it would stop. I’m only surprised I never got into an accident.” She admits to having been “a bit of a car nut”, although she’s now thinking of switching to a petrol-electric hybrid and, like half of Hollywood, is starting to feel guilty about her carbon dioxide emissions.

“Well, I live in Los Angeles so that’s a lot of driving right there. I had a sports car once – a Porsche 911. It was pretty awesome. I loved that car, but now I have a regular sedan. “I’m actually ashamed to tell you what car I have now, to be honest. I got into a long lease before I saw the Al Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] so now I’m embarrassed. But my lease has to be up before I can buy a proper environmental car.” No snob about her career, Ricci flits between diverse roles. After a stint on the final season of the television series Ally McBeal, she reportedly received £2.5m for Miranda, a fairly forgettable thriller.

Going on to play a neurotic actress in Woody Allen’s poorly received Anything Else in 2003, that same year she worked for next to nothing in I Love Your Work, the directorial debut of Adam Goldberg, her then boyfriend. Critics have praised her intense performances in films such as Sleepy Hollow and Monster, but it was a guest spot on the television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy that earned her an Emmy nomination two years ago. Ricci claims she’s happiest at home with Ramon, his kennel mate Waltzer, and her boyfriend Kick Gurry, an Australian actor she met a year ago on the set of Speed Racer, which opens in British cinemas this Friday. However, she has no plans to quit Hollywood any time soon.

“Mermaids does seem like for ever ago,” she admits. “Some people don’t choose to work their whole lives while movie icons like Bette Davis worked until she was eightysomething and Joan Crawford worked up until two weeks before she died. “Me, personally? Definitely. I will probably work for ever.”

My stuff…

On my CD player A lot of Calvin Harris and also Shout Out Louds, a Swedish indie rock band

In my parking space A Mercedes S-class sedan

On my DVD player The Year of the Yao, a documentary about the Chinese basketball star Yao Ming. It’s amazing

I will never throw away My two dogs, Waltzer and Ramon

From the Times Online